IndyCar drivers show why throwing out a first pitch is tougher than it looks

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IndyCar drivers need to have at least some bit of arm strength to wrangle around their race cars, which don’t have the benefit of power steering.

But when it comes to them throwing out ceremonial first pitches at a Major League Baseball game, perhaps it’s not so much their arm strength that’s the problem – more so, their location.

Before heading down to Barber Motorsports Park for this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series event, driver/owner Ed Carpenter made a quick stop in Detroit to handle some promotion for the Detroit Grand Prix (May 31-June 1).

Part of his duties was to throw out the first pitch at yesterday’s Detroit Tigers game. We weren’t able to find a video of the pitch, and perhaps that is a good thing – Mike Brudenell of the Detroit Free Press reports that Carpenter’s throw hit the dirt and went past the glove of catcher Justin Miller into the backstop.

“If that was an attempt at Indy to qualify, I would definitely have withdrawn it,” Carpenter quipped according to Brudenell’s report.

But at least Carpenter got to swap jerseys (or his case, a T-shirt commemorating his 2013 Indianapolis 500 pole) with Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello.

Earlier this month, another IndyCar racer tried to deliver a good first pitch as Helio Castroneves stopped by a Los Angeles Dodgers game before the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend got started.

While Carpenter’s pitch was apparently too low, Castroneves’ pitch sailed on him and, as you’ll see in this Vine clip from the Dodgers, it forced their star outfielder, Andre Ethier, to use his hops in order to snag the wayward ball.

Maybe Carpenter and Castroneves should’ve gone to J.R. Hildebrand for lessons?

Of course, we’re just having a bit of fun with them. You can catch Castroneves and Carpenter (who will be on the pit box watching his road course driver, Mike Conway) this Sunday in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).